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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 October 24 - 30  > Nara residents strive to block plan to concrete over world heritage site
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2012 October 24 - 30 [ENVIRONMENT]

Nara residents strive to block plan to concrete over world heritage site

October 28, 2012
Akahata Sunday edition

In the ancient city of Nara, the government has started to concrete a central area of the Heijo Palace site, provoking local residents’ anger over the construction work that could damage the World Heritage site.

The concrete pavement work is being undertaken in a 45,000-square-meter grassland and wetland area located south of the Former Imperial Audience Hall.

On September 24, the residents came to realize through a local paper’s coverage that the concrete work would start the very next day.

A major change in the current condition of a world heritage needs to be notified in advance to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. The Land Ministry, however, claims that it does not have to fulfill this obligation in this case.

Calling for a halt to the concrete work, a residential group was formed by writer Ryo Michiko and Koi Ryuichi who has engaged in local efforts to protect the site from land development.

A signature drive they launched on October 6 has spread through the Internet. As of October 22, 7,435 signatures were sent from inside and outside Japan.

Koi, who used to work at the then Construction Ministry, pointed out that the work could damage buried cultural properties such as wood strips protected by abundant groundwater.

“The site has underground remains and a rich ecosystem that have been preserved for more than 1,000 years, thanks to our predecessors’ efforts,” said Ryo. A wave of public opinion is needed in order to block the destruction of the precious nature, she stressed.

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